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Restaurateur lands new backing for Andrew Smash.

Byline: Retail Notebook by The Register-Guard

FINANCIAL AID: Justin Zinser remains a one-man band, working 80 hours a week, trying to make Andrew Smash the successful smoothie and healthy fast-food restaurant that he believes it can be.

Recently, Zinser says, he got new financial backing that allowed him to make two deals to boost small, Eugene-based Smash International Inc. Zinser won't say just how much money he's rounded up or who the source is, however.

But news of a cash infusion into Smash International could buoy the spirits of about 300 investors who have a stake in the firm, including the 150 mostly Lane County residents who three years ago sunk $341,500 in a direct public stock offering by Smash. Company founders Jason and Ken Landau used that money to open a Portland restaurant, only to close it a few weeks later as they ran out of funds.

Last month, Zinser bought the equipment and other assets of the downtown Andrew Smash from licensees Stan and Juris Stanton for a combination of cash, stock and debt forgiveness. Smash International also assumed "nominal" debt, Zinser said.

The well-known restaurant was the first Andrew Smash, opened in 1995 by the Landau brothers. Zinser closed the financially struggling restaurant in the U.S. Bank building at the end of September.

But also in September, Zinser bought the Jamba Juice outlet at the University of Oregon, a competitor that he then converted to an Andrew Smash.

That purchase gives Smash two UO outlets. Zinser had previously opened an express version of Smash at the UO's student recreation center.

The new, full-menu Andrew Smash in the Erb Memorial Union should be the busiest of the chain's three outlets, Zinser said. Smash also has a restaurant in Springfield's Gateway Mall.

"We'll do over $1,000 a day here," Zinser said, sitting at a table in the EMU. "We sometimes gross more here in a half an hour than we are doing at Gateway all day."

Zinser bought Jamba Juice from a Portland firm, Refreshing Concepts LLC, in a deal that included a Jamba Juice store in Beaverton and another in Portland.

Refreshing Concepts wanted $215,000 for the three outlets, Zinser said. He said he paid "substantially less," but declined to give details.

Zinser, who assumed control of Smash from the Landaus last year, said he will soon decide whether to convert the Beaverton and Portland outlets to Andrew Smashes or close them. First, he'll try to renegotiate the leases to get better terms.

"The fundamentals have to be there," Zinser said. "We don't want to go back to Portland and make the same mistakes and close down."

If he can't get lower rent, Zinser said, he'll be able to use equipment from the closed locations in future Andrew Smashes and sell what he doesn't want. "Regardless, we'll come out ahead," Zinser said.

Zinser says the Gateway and UO recreation center Smash outlets are profitable but not to the point that he had extra cash lying around to pay for the two recent deals.

Zinser said he is being helped by a Eugene investor, who prefers to remain anonymous. The investor had previously acquired a stake in Andrew Smash when the Landaus ran the business, Zinser said.

Zinser added that he'd like to open a Smash somewhere in downtown Eugene. "There are at least three distinct site possibilities in the neighborhood of the former Andrew Smash," he said.

By business reporter Ed Russo.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 17, 2002
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